Synopsis: Earl Tubb returns to the southern town he grew up in to clear out his old family home when he finds the town has been taken over by the high school football coach and his lackeys.
Stepping away from the superhero genre, Southern Bastards is a country-fried pulp comic with tons of intrigue and backwoods brutality. If you combine Walking Tall with Gran Torino, you get Southern Bastards. Written by Jason Aaron, who grew up in Alabama, Southern Bastards is not one to dwell on southern hospitality. It is unflinching, violent, dirty, and a worthwhile read for anyone who likes the seedier side of small town living and the oligarchy of southern high school football.
The introductory volume of this series is based all around its story of an outsider walking into a town that doesn’t want him there. Earl Tubb is the son of the former sheriff of the town, and one that isn’t thought of in a kind manner. Earl isn’t his biggest fan, either, but when push comes to shove, Earl finds that he has more in common with his dad than he’d like to admit. The tension is palpable from the get-go: Earl doesn’t want to be there and the town doesn’t want him there, and the ensuing violence kicks off early and carries the story.
Story Rating: 4 out of 5
Southern Bastards, drawn by Jason LaTour, seems to have an exclusively red tint, as if it were drenched in barbecue sauce and blood. This color scheme plays heavily into the tone of book, and combined with the purposeful ugliness of its characters, makes Craw County one place you’d never want to visit.
Artwork Rating: 4 out of 5
Craw County is a colorful group of people and Earl Tubb, as the outsider, sneers in disgust at the backwardness at it all. He’s also a complete badass, even though he’s falling into the traps that turned his father into the person he ultimately grew to resent. It’s actually quite a complex character that could have just as easily been a characterless agent of violence.
Character Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Coach runs Craw County, and it doesn’t take too long before Earl starts butting heads with Coach and his crew of drug-running, gun-toting flunkies that inhabit the county. Coach’s shadow looms large over everyone in the county; those that don’t work for him, fear him, and those that do work for him, fear him even more. It’s a great character and one fitting for this setting.
Villain Rating: 4 out of 5
Southern Bastards is an interesting read, and a unique one at that. It’s violent, bloody, and outright disgusting, but it tells an intriguing story of a town run by a megalomaniac high school football coach and the one outsider stupid enough to take him on. It’s definitely not for those with a weaker stomach, as this one is unsavory and brutal, but for a break from the superhero genre, this one is a great choice.